Cover (Photo by Mo from Pexels)

Are our opinions and identities really our own? Or are we simply products of echo chambers and endless algorithms?

Ever find yourself thinking ‘what is the internet doing to us?’. Then, these five books may help quell your curiosity and offer timely insights on the purpose, limits, and even dangers of our digital existence.

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1 / 5

Wasting Time on the Internet (2016) by Kenneth Goldsmith

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There’s no such thing as time wasted on the internet, conceptual artist Kenneth Goldsmith argues in this work much to the chagrin of many readers and critics of big data. If you’re a fan of playing devil’s advocate to the devil’s advocate, this book will be right up your alley as Goldsmith explores off-the-beaten-path ideas about productivity and the purpose of wading through one algorithm after the other.

Don't deactivate your accounts just yet!

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2 / 5

To Save Everything, Click Here (2014) by Evgeny Morozov

Opposite to Goldsmith’s rose-coloured glasses, To Save Everything, Click Here by Morozov warns of the deep-seated (and perhaps subconscious) perils of putting our lives in the cloud. The author speaks about or rather pleads a case for rethinking the internet and its moral consequences on individuals.

Our obsession with efficiency and quantifiable data has made us slaves to the intellectual trends and demands of Silicon Valley. Morozov begs the question, is there still a possibility for human agency in this age?

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3 / 5

The Transparency Society (2012) by Byung-chul Han

Ever had a chance to contemplate the amazing democracy of having the world’s information at your fingertips? Well, philosopher Byung-chul Han explores the irony of this phenomenon in his treatise The Transparency Society. Here, he reminds readers of the pitfalls of unlimited information - received and given. What is the threshold at which we acquire true knowledge? Is there even such a thing to be had from the echo chambers of our internet existence?

This invigorating read will leave you pondering about living an ‘offline life’, but at the same breath, the impossibility of such a pursuit.

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4 / 5

Does the Internet Have an Unconscious? (2018) by Clint Burnham

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A fan of Slavoj Žižek’s two cents? Clint Burnham offers an analysis of the philosopher’s commentary on digital culture and the construction of lives around fantasies and performativity.

From the invisible machinery of web algorithms, the nuances of tech and devices, to the ‘digitalisation’ of culture-at-large, Burnham investigates the Internet as a being in and of itself - one that is beyond anyone’s control.

An insightful read for those confused, amused, or perhaps annoyed at Mark Zuckerberg’s journey into the Metaverse.

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5 / 5

The Internet of Us (2016) by Michael P Lynch

Similar to Byung-chul Han’s philosophical hunt in Transparency Society, The Internet of Us seeks to understand the irony of knowing more and understanding less in the digital age.

Lynch concerns himself with the difficulty of fake news and how we’ve all become susceptible to ideas and thoughts within our own biases – biases, perhaps, created for us by the ‘invisible hand’ of big data. How do we even know if our opinions are really our own? Give this book a read for a big helping of melancholic pondering about privacy and selfhood.

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